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"Yer Tiz" (or Krek Waiter's Peak Bristle)

by Laurence O'Brien

17th Bristol Classic Bike Show

"I have a cunning plan, my Lord Black Adder".

"And what is that Baldrick?"

"We shall call the show 'The Bristol Classic Bike Show', but it won't be in Bristol".

"That is so cunning it could cut a weasel".

We exchanged the draughty tents in a disused railway siding for a more agricultural setting this year, namely the third cow-shed on the left in a field in the middle of nowhere, and mind where you step!  Those followers of iron bikes who travel a considerable distance had to forego their annual ritual of negotiating King Street and tap the local scrumpy farms instead.  The exhibition had moved from central Bristol to Shepton Mallet in the Somerset countryside - but there were some positive points.  We actually got a better siting in the main hall and were overlooked on three sides by a terrace.  Which was just as well because the crowds were so thick that visitors were obliged to mount the terraces to view our machines.  And what a splendid sight they were - but perhaps not so splendid as Bob Waite in his Power Pak T-shirt.

Success breeds success and Bob and Steve Waite had organised another memorable occasion for "Wess Vinglun"; the display was improved over the previous two years with help provided from club resources, and this year Bob obtained some nicely turned out posts and roping to fence off our area and provide some form of crowd control.

A large number of club members visited the stand, more than I can remember from the previous two years, and very welcome they were too.  Keith and Michael Flood made a 500 mile round trip to join in the general mêlée and helped to fend off the occasional argumentative type - you know the sort that goes along just to pick a fight (metaphorically speaking) over whatever trivial detail relating to knurled flange brackets.

Perhaps it was the greater closeness to Cornwall, or maybe coincidence, but a number of people commented on Mike Jones's Teagle - a marque from that area - although most of the enquirers were more aware of Teagle as agricultural machinery manufacturers.  Dave Casper's Lohmann fitted to Philippa Wheeler's Raleigh Stowaway was an attraction - any reference to it being a diesel was rapidly shot down in flames by Dave who insists on its correct title of "compression-ignition" engine.  Philippa provided a photo collection collage of her trip to Brittany and Flanders on the same machine, and Dave also brought along a Bianchi Aquilotto, now running into its thirtieth year and looking very pretty.

Alan Hibbard from Melksham coughed up with a Corgi and a Clark Scamp, neither of which had been exhibited on our stand before, and completed the exhibited range from autocycle through cyclemotor to ... well, what are they?

Mike Rendall showed off his freshly restored Excelsior Autobyk, which he brought up from Exeter in the back of his camper - a tight squeeze for him and his wife apparently - good test of the marriage vows.

Dave Smith, also from Melksham, weighed in with an NSU Quickly and the prize-winning Cyclemaster-powered Raleigh butcher's bike - complete with basket and imitation meat products - I assumed they were imitation - they were certainly eye catching.  Dave has offered to supply sausages for the AGM in the summer but was unwilling to deliver them from Melksham on the bike!  The bike was displayed against a backdrop of a Cyclemaster engine blueprint supplied by Ian Edwards; Ian had refused point blank to provide any more machines after last year's insults.  Sadly, we'll just have to live with that.

Needless to say, awards cannot go by without some comment - if there are no awards it's wrong; if there are fewer awards than adjacent stands it's wrong; and if it's for the wrong bike it's wrong.  But the latter is a matter of perception.  Dave C warmed to a clearly well rehearsed topic and expounded his views on this "Heart of the Matter" moral issue: whether it was more justifiable to award to a bike that is not complete and not strictly correct, but with cosmetic visual appeal, or whether the neighbouring genuine, but less appealing to the uninitiated, Vincent Firefly should have had it.  Dave S remained aloof from this erudite discussion - his bike had won the prize, and nobody was going to prise it off it!

Apart from our range of 'classics' we had an imported Delta machine mounted into a Raleigh Niton ATB and on the static display we had the usual Club paraphernalia and Steve's engineering exhibit collection and a very nice Power Pak with chrome tank cover and pukka carrier frame.  Graham Warren made a late entry on the second day by bursting through the security cordon with his VéloSoleX 3500.

Machines on display:

Mercury Cyclemaster with pillion 1954 Mike Jones  
Cyclemate 1955 Bob Waite  
Cyclemaster 1951 Bob & Steve Waite  
Cyclemaster in butcher's bike   Dave Smith *** Prize Winner
Excelsior Autobyk 1949 Mike Rendall  
Lohmann   Dave Casper & Philippa Wheeler  
Bianchi Aquilotto 1967 Dave Casper & Udo Von Hagen  
Teagle 1957 Mike Jones  
Vincent Firefly 1953 Bill Purnell  
Clark Scamp 1968 Alan Hibbard  
Corgi 1945 Alan Hibbard  
NSU Quickly 1964 Dave Smith  

Y'know, it's really quite a pleasure to allocate a day or two to these shows - one meets people from all walks of life, and many with interesting tales to tell of their youth; and being at the show there is no question of there being no time for a chat as there is in our working lives.  I met a chap whose father, two brothers, his sister and he himself each had cyclemotors, and all were different.  On Sundays the whole family attended church and 'raced' home afterwards - this was set in my old stamping ground of South Lancashire - the collection is still complete but unused for the past forty years or so.  Now I tried ever so hard to persuade this visitor to take up the wheels once more but his advancing years possibly preclude that, but I have promised to visit him shortly to help with the paper-work and interview him and remaining family on their recollections of cyclemotoring.

First published - April 1997

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